Saturday, January 29, 2011


Hi folks, one month of 2011 has raced past. Another month, another gift. To me everyday is a gift. I used to write about wobbling eggs. Wobbling eggs were books that had made their way into the hands of some agent or editor. I felt this sense that my book had become a baby chick about break out of it's egg. Those wobbling eggs did lead to some success, and I'm grateful for the beautiful books sitting on my shelf. But let me tell you something, there is a joy in this work. Joy bubbles up as I shape and reshape my writing, learn the craft of writing, and actually do the work.

I have something to say and yearn for folks to connect with my work. I had this brilliant experience of taking in pages in for critique. I'm in the Best Little Critique Group in Texas. It has two members -- me and Kathy Whitehead. She read my current pages and gave the best critique ever. She cried and unlike me, who am a watering pot, she rarely cries. That moment made me know I've got a whole flat of wobbling eggs. The chicks are ready to hatch.

Keep working, folks. Let that yearning to have your work out there fuel your drive to create works that will last for generations. Quiet all the noise, the hype, the hunger, and channel all that energy into writing your best book. This takes a special kind of confidence. Think about a doctor who cuts into someone's chest and pulls out their heart and puts in a new one. You'd want someone confident, someone who knows what they were doing to perform heart surgery. Our words inscribe on the hearts of our readers. I'll tell you of the story of writer who saved me sometime. Do what ever it takes to write your best book.

We are creating the warp threads of the fabric of our times.Respect the depths of this work. Seize the day. See you back next week folks.

Eyes are the window of the soul. My doodle this week is a "A Face Study".

Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream. Paulo Coelho

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Hi folks,

Wow, I am feeling better! I've spent most of this month waylaid by a terrible virus, and today is the first day that I've really felt like myself. The virus led to a bacterial infection in my sinuses. I'm on my second round of antibiotics and this round seems to be working. So yay! The attack is over.

My whole writing life has sort of been waylaid for the past year. I was on the road of Expectations but ended up in the Doldrums. (Readers of the PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH will understand.) I moved across country and it put me in the scratch-the-next-thing-off-the-list mode. I've felt aimless. I wrote some but submissions ground to halt. Now things are finally settling down. So yay! The interruption is over.

During my trip to the Doldrums, I've done some cool stuff. Here is a link to some blogs I did for Mom's Homeroom. Here is a link to the new SCBWI Brazos Valley Blog: BV Scratchpad. I'm posting interesting stuff about our market that comes my way.

It is time to roll up the shirtsleeves and get to work. If you are in the Doldrums, look around for the Watch Dog. For me the Watch Dog is the simple idea -- if today was my last day, what would I do? This thought helps me focus. It's often a simple thing that turns the tide in me. Keep your eyes open! Things are bound to change.

The sun always shines here. I'm feeling that connection with our star. So here is a nice "Sun".

Today's quote:

Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up.
Pearl S. Buck

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Hi folks, I'm revising a manuscript that I put up on the shelf a few years ago and that I've brought out and dusted off. What am I learning on this journey? I tend to be melodramatic, and I have to always tone down the drama. But beyond that, I have to make wings. To do this, I have to consider a vast expansion to reveal the heart of my novel.

You have to tear down some outer walls to do this sort of work effectively. I have to say it's painful to toss out pages of perfectly decent prose. But I do it anyway and replace it with rough first draft. This is phase one of wings.

Then I read the passage over and over. Cutting away the leftover bits from the old section and reshaping the new so that the core attaches to the fancy wings. It's careful work but satisfying, especially when the whole thing takes flight.

Maybe you have a story that has not quite caught flight. Perhaps you need to add some wings. There is something amazing about giving flight to things. Don't be afraid to do the work of adding wings.

My doodle for today is a re-post. This "Seagull" just seemed to fit the whole idea of wings.

Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings. Victor Hugo

Saturday, January 08, 2011


Hi folks,

I don't have a serious bone in my body today. It might be the cough medicine or the allergy medicine. Regardless, I'm just a bit loopy. My artist friend Richard Jesse Watson's blog "My Inner Zoo" inspired me earlier and I decided to jump off this week's blog from his artistic nudge. His cover on the SCBWI Bulletin of a T-rex flying a kite in a snow storm hits the nail on the head about what stories should be.

I think an injection of whimsy is what many stories call out for. I get the message. You have to shake the ridiculous out of your noggin and onto the page. It's got to make sense. Take your quiet little story. It might be as sweet as coconut cream pie and as fluffy as lemon whipping cream frosting. It might have the rich heart of a dark chocolate covered macadamia nut, but still it's bland and flat. You may need a T-Rex flying a kite in a snowstorm (Richard Jesse Watson). A golden fairy with dead chicken (Rembrandt Van Rijn), or a blue goat playin violin (Chagall), or a fire breathing alligator climbing out of a two dimensional world. (Escher)

Now don't misunderstand me. Whimsy has to work. It needs to be fresh and surprising.
It needs to inject needed contrast into a quiet place. T-rex might have a tough time diving into the middle of a space battle but she might fit in quite nicely at a father-daughter dance.

Okay, I know I'm ridiculous. And yet, I hope that you toss in some whimsy. Have fun. :)
See you next week when hopefully this drug induced fog clears.

The doodle comes from a series called: "Bushbaby." I draw this little guy a alot.

And now whimsical quote from a master:

"I am the umbrella that holds up the sky. I am the umbrella the rain comes through. I am the umbrella that tells the sky when to begin raining and when to stop raining. I am the umbrella that goes to pieces when the wind blows and then puts itself back together again when the wind goes down. I am the first umbrella, the last umbrella, the one and only umbrella all other umbrellas are named after, first, last and always." When the stranger finished this speech telling who he was and where he came from, all the other umbrellas sat still for a little while, to be respectful.
— Carl Sandburg (Rootabaga Stories)

Saturday, January 01, 2011


Another year has come, folks. I hope that you find yourself more courageous this year than ever before. Take some time for goal setting. Let last year go.

I want to be whole-hearted in my efforts this year. Here is an interesting bit from researcher/storyteller Brene Brown that you might want to give a listen: I like the idea of living life whole-heartedly. I think that we could all benefit from accepting that we are imperfect.

In terms of creativity, be kind to yourself and don't treat yourself like some little nobody whose work is never going to amount anything. Don't let yourself or anyone for that matter treat your artistic pursuits as some meaningless hobby that you are using to fill your days while the rest of society is paving your path. All the voices that make you feel like a freeloader -- inside and out -- don't listen. The idea that seeking to express yourself is a worthless pursuit and you-ought-to-get-a-real job is small-minded -- ridiculous even. I reject the overflow of fear and bitterness that could taint us. We will bring the light within us into the dark places of this world. Of this, I am sure. Do not lose sight of it.

Choosing the artist way is difficult. I'm one voice that is here to cheer you on! Do whatever you do fervently with spirit. Be whole-hearted. I'm looking forward to journeying with you in the coming year.

This doodle is from a series called "Magic Carpet Night."

Here is a quote to start out with: Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. Lance Armstrong